Updated: 03/19/2013 6:52 AM KSTP.com By: Todd Wilson
There are hundreds of office buildings in Downtown Minneapolis where thousands of people work. According to a 2009 Economic Policy Institute report, not surprisingly, most of the people in those buildings are white.
The report goes on to say the Twin Cities is one of the worst areas in the country for unemployment for blacks and minorities in general.
Ronnell Robeson has been searching for a job over the last 2 1/2 years.
Robeson does have a criminal background.
"I'm steadily filling out applications, not hearing anything back," Robeson said.
Robeson's situation doesn't tell the entire story.
The report goes on to say "the Twin Cities had a black-white unemployment ratio of 3.1 to 1 in 2009. At the time of this report, the unemployment rate for whites was 6.6 percent and for blacks it was 20.4 percent.
"If you are African American with a college degree, you are less likely to be employed than a white person with a criminal record," said Velma Korbel, the Director of Civil Rights for the city of Minneapolis.
She says the racial disparities are not simply due to lower educational attainment or criminal history but also hiring bias.
"Hiring bias is a nice way of saying that people who are in positions to hire are discriminating against people of color," Korbel said.
So what is being done by the City of Minneapolis to fix this problem? The city created a division called, "Employment Equity," just to deal with this issue. Plus they are working on a fair hiring ordinance.
"That will look at individuals who come from communities of color who have a criminal record and try to re-introduce these individuals into the job market," Korbel said.